Over the first round of the playoffs we all experienced the twitter storm on the Utah Jazz. Turnstile point of attack defense, "is anyone going to pass Rudy the ball?", "is Jalen Brunson worth the max?". While all these were frustrating, watching other team’s failures was interesting in thinking about the future. Two teams in particular whenever they played had Rudy Gobert trending. Who? The Charlotte Hornets and the Atlanta Hawks. Why? Neither can defend the rim from assault in broad daylight. Then you have to consider that the teams finished 9th and 10th in the east alphabetically and both need something to get them to a non-play-in position and hopefully home court advantage.
Thus begs the question, what would a trade look like between the Jazz and either of these teams with Rudy being the center piece. Well, if we are being honest the question is what does a trade with the Atlanta Hawks look like with Rudy Gobert as the center piece. The reason, Charlotte would essentially have to offer "Scary" Terry Rozier or Gordon Hayward as the main way to match salary cap (Charlotte can take back about $4M so a large salary would need to get them there without having to send a ton of players). The addition to the reason, go follow Tony Jones on twitter and you can see that the Jazz have no interest in bringing Gordon back (too much bad blood), and Rozier plays the position the Jazz want Donovan Mitchell to play, and Jazz really need wings more than a guard. So, what are the Hawks willing to offer?
Pretty much everything except Trae Young, and to be honest the prospect of watching Ice-Tray play with Rudy is a pretty exciting concept. Much more than watching Don play with Rudy. Donovan doesn’t throw lobs very well which are the primary way Gobert scores, and Donovan is more of a drive and shoot or dish to shooters type of playmaker. He needs a clearer path to the rim because of how great he is at finishing. Trae, on the other hand, needs space on the perimeter and can throw Gobert lobs all day like he did in this years all-star game. This space will most likely be something Don misses.
But what do the Jazz want? Primarily De’Andre Hunter, John Collins, and the #16 pick. Secondary Jalen Johnson, Kevin Heurter, Danilo Gallinari, Clint Capela, and other picks. The Jazz need perimeter defense and a team that compliments Donovan’s skill set. Also, one could argue a primary scorer to be a 1A/1B with Donovan would make for a fun team and would be necessary to be successful. Of those listed in above, Capela is probably the most interesting one, since if Rudy is going to the Hawks, they no longer need Capela, and if Rudy is gone the Jazz need a center. But is the answer Capela? Or do the Jazz go elsewhere for a center? De’Andre, as people have said, can be the next Kawhi, but also has a checkered injury history. Collins is a solid offensive wing, averages 37.6% from three and 58 games per season over his career. He's good in the mid-range and probably hasn't reached his full potential Both Hunter and Collins are 24 and should come into their prime as Donovan comes into his. The 16th pick is interesting, both Kevin O’Conner and John Hollinger have Tari Eason (6’7" SF from LSU) at that pick. He could be a really good 4 in the NBA but needs work on staying in control of the ball and staying on the floor. If only Sochan was here I’d swing hard. James Hansen gave the comp of Kirilenko, but I would add a strange resemblance to Rodman. High energy, antagonizing on-ball defender, great rebounder, and his offensive game needs some work.
On the flip side, what do the Hawks want? Primarily Rudy, and secondary Bojan Bogdonovic (maybe some icing on the cake from someone else). They need rim defense and rebounding in a way that makes them more than slightly better than the Kings, Pacers, Rockets, and Blazers in Defensive Efficiency. Those four were the only teams they had better defensive efficiency than. I'm not sure those four teams tried to make the playoffs. They also need shot creators and shooting weight to allow Trae to take a break. What else could be available? Royce O’Neil and Rudy Gay. Both had unimpressive years but could be used as salary filler. O’Neil has much better potential going forward, whereas Gay might be declining quicker than expected when the Jazz signed him last year.
Some notes: Both teams are creeping to larger luxury tax bills and don’t seem to have the desire to take back money. Both teams want to compete for a title next year. This makes things different than say trading with OKC, who isn’t competing for a title next year, needs to take back money to not get fined for being below the league minimum, and over the next four years have around 12 guaranteed first round picks depending on how things play out which is almost a full roster of guaranteed contracts. I’m only going to list deals between the two teams since three-way deals become complicated. Laziness kills certain things, I guess.
Here’s are the salaries so we can figure out what’s possible.
Utah: Rudy - $38.17M; Bogey - $19.55M; Royce – $9.32M; Rudy Gay - $6.18M
Atlanta: Collins – $23.5M; Gallinari – $21.45M; Capela – $18.21M; Heurter – $14.51M; Hunter – $9.84M (Team Option); Johnson – $2.79M
Here are some trades that are spinning about the internet with some commentary (It’s hard to find the origin of the NBA Takepede):
Rudy for Collins, Capela, and #16 – Atlanta takes back $3M, gets a huge upgrade at center that is more durable than the two players they are giving up, and gets much better at defense. The Jazz get Collins who could turn into a good partner for Donovan, a solid center with Capela, and a potentially good young wing. Is this enough for a 3x DPOY, 6x 1st team All Defense, 3x All-NBA 3rd Team, and an All-NBA 2nd team. Rudy also averages 67.9 games per season over his career which seems relevant in comparison. What the Jazz are really looking at here is could Collins alone be good enough to replace Gobert, and could the 16th pick be a game changer for the Jazz. Honestly, it’s probably not enough for the Jazz without more picks. The Hawks gain stability with a partner for Trae and the Jazz take on a lot of risk with a lower floor and potentially not a higher ceiling for reward.
Rudy and Bogey for Collins, Gallo, Heurter, and #16 – Jazz take back roughly $2M, Jazz get a younger group to pair with Donovan in Collins/Heurter/16th pick plus a wing that is similar to Bogey but has declined where Bogey has gotten better with age. The Hawks swap one expiring deal for a better, more reliable expiring deal, and get better at defense (much better). In addition (or subtraction), Jazz get worse at interior defense and now need a center. They also lose Bogey as a trade piece to deal for another player that may help them or be a better fit or just maybe keep Bogey. But this gives the Jazz a much younger core, except it doesn’t give the Jazz Hunter. This is where the Jazz venture into Risk Seeking behavior and the Hawks venture into Risk Adverse behavior. The Jazz also look to really excel during the 23-24 season rather than next, whereas the Hawks have to capitalize on this season, but also get to keep Hunter for the future. If I’m the Jazz, the addition of Heurter doesn’t make up for the lack of Hunter.
Rudy and Royce for Collins, Capela, Hunter, and #16 – One way to modify the first trade is by adding Royce and Hunter. Works about the same for salary with Atlanta taking $3M, gives the Jazz higher potential ceiling and lower floor, and provides the Hawks with some perimeter defensive replacement for Hunter. This really depends on how the Hawks see Hunter. The whole potentially Kawhi thing makes everyone’s eyes big and it can be seen in how he plays defense and can score 30+. What’s the cost? Do the Jazz have to give future picks? Do a couple 2nd round picks changing hands even it out? What I do know is that the Hawks gain reliability. Royce led the Jazz in regular season minutes last year and I’ve already talked about Rudy’s availability. To quote everyone in the NBA "Availability is your best ability". Does having two players that can really change a regular season, and posture the Hawks for Home Court advantage in the playoffs in the next couple seasons, change how the Hawks feel about mortgaging their future? I don’t know, but I feel this is where both teams need to start at the baseline. Neither team loses, but both have to give up something that they like.
Will any of these trades happen? Probably not. Both teams want to be better than they were last year and achieve a championship or something that says they are on the right path and can contend. At some point though, you have to sacrifice something to become a contender. The Raptors took a big risk on Kawhi, the Lakers traded away the farm for AD (a championship is a championship), and the Bucks gave away a lot to get Jrue. All those trades were worth it though. These trades don’t seem like the three stated but if you want to win a championship you have to take a risk and sacrifice something that you don’t want to part with. For the Hawks that’s Hunter and the 16th pick. For the Jazz that’s possibly Royce and a feeling that no one values Rudy as much as they think he’s worth. At some point you have to take a risk though.
Post Script: Rudy Gay and Jalen Johnson are potential fillers. Johnson could be a part of the first trade and Gay plus Johnson could be a part of the second trade to even things out.